Monday, February 28, 2011

Erik Seidel: Master of His Domain

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Erik Seidel is not just running good...he's en feugo.

It appeared that the peak of Seidel's run good occurred during a two week stretch in January when he won over $3.4 million. Ah, but that wasn't the case. Seidel's fortuitous run continued when he shipped the High Roller event at the L.A. Poker Classic.

It's been an auspicious 2011 for Seidel. His magical mystery tour began in the Bahamas, continued through Oz, and spilled over into Los Angeles...

- Seidel took 4th place in the $25,000 High Rollers event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

- Seidel then flew to Melbourne, Australia to play in the Aussie Millions. He played in the $100,000 (Aussie Bucks) High Roller event and finished in 3rd place.

- During the highly controversial $250,000 (AUD) Super High Roller Event, Seidel smoked the field and finished in first place winning $2.5 million AUD. At the time, the Australian Dollar was almost on par with the USD.

- On the last day of February, Seidel won the LAPC $25,000 High Rollers Event at the at Commerce Casino. Even though Seidel negotiated a three-way deal with Elky and Darren Elias, he still pulled out the victory.

Here's Seidel's winner's interview with Matt Savage...

What's next for Seidel? Supremacy in the NBC Heads-Up Championship? High Roller events at the EPT Grand Finale in Madrid? Will his run good be extended into this summer? How many bracelets will he win? Or will Seidel struggle with much bigger fields at the WSOP?

One thing is for sure, Seidel is hot.I'd love to know who he picks for March Madness this year.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Talking March Madness with Lou Krieger

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Lou Krieger invited me to join him on his weekly radio show, Keep Flopping Aces. I'm a frequent guest on Lou's show and in the past we discussed poker-related topics, however, for the most recent episode we chatted about... college basketball.

A little background on the topic...Lou is my editor at Poker Player Newspaper and most of the time after I email him my column, our email thread branches off into basketball, specifically about college hoops. So when Lou asked me to come onto his show, I suggested that we chat about a topic that we both love -- college hoops. Lou loved the idea and dedicated an entire episode of his show to the upcoming March Madness college basketball tournament.

If you like college basketball, then listen to the latest episode (2/24/11) of Keep Flopping Aces. We gave a conference-by-conference run down about what teams we expect to be in this year's tournament, and which teams might bubble.

By the way, if you're someone who has been too busy to pay attention to college hoops, but want to know what's up when it's time to fill out a brackets for your office pool, then our show will be a good primer.

Click here to listen to Keep Flopping Aces. Thanks again to Lou for having me on.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Micros: Episode 3 - One Flew Over the Kookaburra's Nest

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Giddy up! The Micros, everyone's favorite comedic short-animated series, just returned with a highly anticipated new episode titled One Flew Over the Kookaburra's Nest...

Nice work, fellas.

Click here
for more episodes of The Micros.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bluff Power 20: Howard Lederer Has the Juice

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Bluff Magazine released their Power 20 list of most powerful and influential people in the poker industry.

As a columnist for Bluff Magazine, I had the dubious honor of being a part of the magazine's (small) voting panel for previous Power 20 lists. They switched up the process for selecting this year's Power 20 as the panel expanded to include over 100 different opinions from esteemed members of the poker industry. Once again, I was fortunate to be on the voting panel.

Here's the results...

Bluff Magazine - 2011 Power 20

1. Howard Lederer - Consultant, Pocket Kings Limited

Deadhead. Former bookie. Poker pro. Online poker visionary. Top dog. Top gun. King of the Hill. The Godfather.

2. Isai Scheinberg - Founder, PokerStars

The hand that feeds me. I had Mr. Scheinberg occupying the top spot on my ballot. Play PokerStars.

3. Ty Stewart - Executive Director, World Series of Poker and Vice President, Caesars Interactive Entertainment

Fitting that the former high school hoops star with a wicked jump shot is #3 on the list. The head honcho at the WSOP is also the #1 executive on the list (also quite an achievement), which makes him the Top Suit in Poker.

4. Harry Reid - U.S. Senator (D-NV)

Snake Oil Salesman. Career Waffler. The sheeple are delusional for putting ANY politicians on the list. Come on, we all know that politicians don't actually have any power -- they're mere puppets for the corporate oligarchs who really run our country.

5. Brian Balsbaugh - Founder, Poker Royalty

In Hollywood terms, Balsbaugh is Richard Lovett and Poker Royalty is the CAA of poker. Heck, as soon as I'm done with my screenplay, I'm sending the first copy to Balsbaugh! If I'm being too obscure with Hollywood power broker references, how about this... Poker Royalty is the N.Y. Yankees of poker player representation.

6. Phil Ivey - The World's Best Poker Player

OK, I didn't make up that weak sauce title (see above)... it's Bluff's title, not mine. It's not much a title as an absolute truth. I don't think Ivey needs a title. I mean, on his business cards, it reads: Phil. That's it. No title. No email. No phone. Not even a last name. Just a blank card with: Phil. He's a man that does not need an introduction. Shit, he's the man. Why isn't he #1? He's a part-owner of Full Tilt and with one arm tied behind his back, he can still whoop the shit out of Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World.

7. Daniel Negreanu - Player, Team PokerStars Pro

Danny Boy wields a significant amount of influence due to his fervent popularity among the masses, not to mention the morbid fear that he instills in the industry due to his willingness to say anything, at any given time, while using multiple pulpits.

8. Mitch Garber - CEO, Caesars Interactive Entertainment

The Cigarette Smoking Man of poker. The former big wig at Party Poker remained out of the spotlight since he jointed CIE, but he's been very active behind the scenes sliding all the necessary building blocks in place for poker's New World Order.

9. Mori Eskandani - CEO, Poker PROductions

I valued TV production heavily when I filled out my original ballot. Televised poker helped manufacture consent (to butcher use a Noam Chomsky term) of the legitimacy of the industry among the populous. I included Mori (along with everyone else) because of his contributions with High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark. At the same time, 441 Productions is the biggest exclusion from the 2011 Power 20. For my ballot, I included both Matt Maranz and David Swartz from 441 Productions, the crew behind the WSOP broadcasts who deserved recognition for their unique storytelling ability and shaping the current poker world through their filter/lenses.

10. Doyle Brunson - The Godfather of Poker

Doyle is not the "real" Godfather like say... Howard Lederer. But, if Howard is more like Michael Corleone, then old Texas Dolly is Vito Corleone (post-ambush) on his last licks and making funny faces with orange peels in the garden.

11. John Pappas - Executive Director, Poker Players Alliance

How could anyone make the list if they are the head of the most ineffective lobbying group on Capitol Hill (with the exception of the Pro-Clubbing of Baby Seals contingency)? Until online poker makes serious strides towards legitimization, I won't include any political types on future ballots.

12. Tom Dwan - Player, Team Full Tilt

I didn't have Durrrr on my list, but the more I think about it, the more I should have included the most fearless person in poker, who held the entire high-stakes community by the proverbial balls one sweltering night during the 2010 WSOP. It was arguably one of the most exciting moments from last summer. For more background on that tempestuous evening, check out 2010 WSOP Day 10: Most Likely You Go Durrrr's Way (And I'll Go Mine).

13. Tony G - Owner, PokerNews

The G rocketed to the upper echelon of the industry's Great Pyramid after churning out PokerNews franchises in every possible language on the planet (which consequentially allowed him to print money in every possible currency). Word on the street these days is that The G over-stretched his vast online empire after gobbling up a chunk of virtual poker real estate and spending over $23 million to train 420 flying monkeys to do chip counts at the 2011 WSOP. The G's most recent venture? Branching off into dead languages including PokerNews Mayan. Why? To gear up for the 2012 hysteria, of course.

14. Matt Savage - Executive Tour Director, World Poker Tour

One of the few good guys in poker. The media respects Savage. And poker pros friggin' love him, which is strange because poker pros usually hate everything.

15. Ray Bitar - Director, Pocket Kings LTD

The former day trader-turned-online poker entrepreneur is one of the original minds behind Full Tilt Poker. Bitar should be much much much higher up on the list.

16. Phil Hellmuth - Poker’s Most Valuable Free Agent

Peeking into souls is overrated, but the fact that Hellmuth is a "free agent" gives him a tad more juice. Plus, he presses palms and slaps backs with former Presidents. Regardless if you think he's a dick or not, the echo chamber considers Hellmuth's ego-driven brand as one of the most powerful men in all of poker. Personally, I always thought that Hellmuth was the Fredo Corleone of poker.

17. Lance Bradley - Editor in Chief, BLUFF Magazine

Wow, I actually picked Lance Bradley #17 on my ballot. I must be psychic or something. With his inclusion in the Power 20, Lance is officially the most powerful Ginga in poker.

18. Steve "Chops" Preiss - Entity, Wicked Chops Poker

The creator of Wicked Chops Poker is not just about hot chicks and snark. Chops teamed up with web-trepreneur Jason Calacanis and the Cooley brothers to launch the poker industry's most innovative product in 2010... This Week in Poker. I've already seen a few copy cats trying to replicate their format.

19. Jim Ryan - CEO, PartyGaming

Man, so sorry to Warren Lush. I voted for him over Jimbo. No offense to Jimbo, I mean, how could the poker industry turn its collective back on someone with the nickname "Fun Warren"? He should be in the Top 10 on any poker-themed list. But how about Party Poker getting a nod? Remember those guys? Well, they are still one of the biggest online gaming companies in the world despite not being able to tap into the U.S. market. Party Poker left American shores with the introduction of the UIGEA legislation. They paid a fine shakedown money to the DOJ in order to be the first foreign online poker operator in line... if the federales flip the switch on the UIGEA and dole out gaming licenses.

20. Eric 'sheets' Haber and Cliff 'johnnybax' Josephy - Backers

Even though staking one of the most murky aspects of the industry, backing syndicates are a vital component to the financial survival of many players. Without third-party financing of buy-ins (both online and live), overall numbers would drop with fewer entrants. Sheets/Haber's group (the Goldman Sachs of poker) is among the most elite staking operations in the world. Remember Joe Cada's run during the 2009 WSOP Main Event? After he won, who did he hug first? That's right... Johnny Bax. His backer. His poker papa.

That's it. By the way, thanks to the gang at Bluff Magazine for including me on the voting panel.

Here's the official statement about Bluff Magazine's 2011 Power 20.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Phantom Punch and the UB Cheating Scandal Hippodrome

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


Sonny Liston took a dive in his rematch against Muhammad Ali. Some boxing historians say Liston owed money to mobsters. Others suggest that he was afraid of the Black Muslims. Still others say... both Mobsters and Black Muslims were two powerful reasons on why he went down (and stayed down) after a phantom punch from Muhammad Ali.

The first time that Ali and Liston squared off in the ring, Ali was known as Cassius Clay, the challenger seeking a title shot at Liston, who held the world championship. The match was not without controversy: 1) A chemical substance got into Clay's eyes causing him to go blind during a middle round but instead of attacking, Liston eased off on him, and then 2) Liston never answered the bell at the start of the 7th round. Shortly after their controversial first meeting, Clay announced his support for the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

Thanks to YouTube, the public can view the disputed evidence and weigh in on the Phantom Punch for themselves. I'm waiting for the Zapruder film to be released so we can tell if there really was a shooter from the grassy knoll. Anyway, watch the video (again). The clip (in the video player above) isn't very long because the fight lasted less than two minutes.

What did you see? Did Ali connect or not? If he did connect, was the punch powerful enough to put Liston down? And how about the shenanigans with the knockdown count?

Even with the visual evidence, it's difficult to to determine the ultimate truth -- which went to the grave with Liston.

Liston died 40 years ago at his home in Las Vegas in 1971. Even his death was surrounded with controversy -- overdose, suicide, or foul play?

Which brings us to 2011.

The locales have shifted away from boxing and into the internet poker realm, but there's still something not right about what we're seeing.

Although some secrets about the UB cheating scandal will go to the grave with some of the participants, a couple of folks have been trying to unearth the real story. Enter Bryan Micon and Haley Hintze. Special kudos for Haley for sticking with the story since Day 1.

Check out Haley's recent post from her Just Conjecturin' series: Volume 28: The Brainwashdodo Correspondence.

Addressing a Few Rumors is an official response from COO Paul Leggett, who denied any role in a cover up. Take it for what it's worth.

Micon recorded another episode of DonkDown Radio last night. He had Russ Hamilton's former IT guy, Travis Makar, on the show again, along with Brad Booth (one of the players pilfered by a Superuser).

I doubt that we'll ever get all the details behind the UB (and Absolute Poker) cheating scandals. And if we get close, that's when bodies start piling up and more people go mysteriously missing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hump Day Nugs: DonkDown Developments in the UB Cheating Scandal, CBS and Pollack, NBC Heads-Up Line Up, Poker Faces, and Caesar's Catch 22

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Wish I had more time to write, alas, I'm swamped with fear mongering, editing a novel, and I just got news that my defunct Steely Dan cover band is reuniting to play a couple of gigs. So while I re-learn the chords to Pretzel Logic, here's a couple of links worthy of being dubbed as hump day poker news...
The lineup for the 2011 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship has been released. As per usual, there's a few "head scratchers" on this year's list and plenty of other pros who got snubbed. (Bluff Magazine)

Here's los hombres take on the 2011 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship. (Wicked Chops Poker)

Although Change100 pointed out the Variety article to me first (can't believe she still read Variety even though she's no longer in show business, but that's a whole other story), Michalski molded it into an actual post...CBS to Partner with New Jeffrey Pollack Pro Poker League? (Variety, Pokerati)

Shamus wrote a review of Poker Faces: The Life and Work of Professional Card Players,a book penned by David Hayano almost 30 years ago. (Hard-Boiled Poker)

In a post titled Caesars Entertainment Catch-22, Kim sounded off on the recently revealed relationship between Caesars Entertainment and Barriere. (Infinite Gaming Edge)

If you've been following along with the recent developments in the UB cheating scandal, check out this summary from Micon about his meeting on 2/22 with Travis Makar. (DonkDown)

Speaking of the UB scandal, Haley Hintze revealed the name of whistleblower "Brainwashdodo", who was responsible for leaking Russ Hamilton's name to the superuser accounts. (Haley's Poker Blog)
That's it. NGTFOOMO!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Morning Nugs: DonkDown and Travis Makar, Late Rent, More Intersection of Law and Online Poker, and Corporate Cosmology

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Not much time to talk. I'm on a deadline, so let's not waste any more time and get down to it. The straight dope. Here's a few bits of poker news to masticate on this lovely Monday morning...
Micon and the DonkDown crew interviewed Travis Makar (one of those accused in the UB cheating scandal). According to Micon: "He answers a lot of questions and sheds a lot of light about Russ Hamilton and the AP/UB scandal." You can listen to the podcast here. You can also download a transcript of the show. (DonkDown)

I wish I was making this up... using game theory to help sexless marriages. Liquor helps... too. (Bloomberg)

Another compelling non-poker post from an online pro. Check out Your Body Is Awesome and Really Complicated; Please Don't Trust It To Idiots and Charlatans. (NoahSD)

Fake or not, this thread about Tony G not paying his rent is just fucking funny. (2+2)

Grange95 posted the second part of his series on the Intersection of Law & Online Poker. Part 2 covers Subject Matter Jurisdiction in Civil Cases. Excellent read. If you missed the first part, you can read Part 1 on Personal Jurisdiction. (crAAKKer)

Anguila needs your help getting a seat into the Spanish Poker Pro Masters. He needs your vote! (Runner-Runner)

I watched Network the other night, which inspired a post about two important scenes, including the most important conversation in the entire film... Corporate Cosmology vs. Mad As Hell. (Tao of Pauly)
That's it. You know the drill. NGTFOOMO!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Fifteenth Minute and Why Shirley Rosario Kicks Ass

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"We've been demoted," joked Dan Michalski.

"Hollywood is a brutal fucking town," I reminded him. "Looks like we've reached the 14 minute and 20 second mark on our '15 Minutes' of fame."

Last year we were both invited to play in the WPT's Celebrity Invitational at Commerce Casino, one of the most popular events in the L.A. Poker Classic tournament series. It's a freeroll with only the final table getting paid out prize money. For many poker pros, the Celebrity Invitational was their favorite event of the year because they could actually have fun playing poker by getting schwasted and flinging around chips around with television and motion picture stars.

Alas, this year Michalski and I didn't get the nod. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining because we never should have been playing in the first place! If anything, we were invited as a nice gesture from tournament director extraordinaire Matt Savage.

In the bigger scheme of things (i.e. Hollywood's fickle ranking system), we are a bunch of nobodies. Zeros. Heck, I'm less than zero -- one of thousands of wanna-be screenwriters huddled at the bottom of the hills of Hollywood writing our asses off in hopes that some day we'd reach the misty mountain top. But somehow, while trying to win the lottery (selling a screenplay) or doing something meaningful with my life (penning the Great American Novel), my life took an unexpected detour and I ended up as a shill for the poker industry.

I took my shot and missed, but even though I fell short, I still landed head first in a desert oasis. If anything, I'm eternally grateful the the tribal nation of poker overlooked all of my idiosyncrasies and accepted a known-drug fiend with peculiar sense of humor and tempestuous mood swings.

Ah, so last year at this time, I got an invitation to the Big Ball and felt like Cinderella on Oxycontin. My girlfriend made me change outfits three times before we even left our apartment in the Slums of Beverly Hills.

The highlights from the 2010 Invitational included meeting William Hung and getting busted by Joe Toye from Band of Brothers. I wrote about playing in last year's event in a two part series...
The WPT Celebrity Invitational, Part 1: Welcome to Hollyweird
The WPT Celebrity Invitational, Part 2: I Could Use Some Brass Knuckles
Ah that was 2010. Now, it's 2011 and my fifteen minutes of fame are coming to a screeching halt. But... I still had a chance to play in this year's WPT Celebrity Invitational if I was one of three lucky souls who won a seat in the LAPC Media Tournament. Although I've been bogged down editing/re-writing a novel, I decided to escape my office for a few hours to play some cards.

My girlfriend is currently in Brazil covering the Latin America Poker Tour for PokerStars, so I had to drive to Commerce Casino by myself on a rare rainy afternoon (which also meant that I couldn't get blitzed and play poker because I'm a responsible citizen when it comes to driving, especially on a freeway in Los Angeles once the spraying has been done). It took me 1:50 to drive from the Slums of BH to Commerce during the heart of rush hour (twice as long as it should have). When I woke up on Friday afternoon, I really didn't care if I won a seat or not, however, all that changed after wasting almost two hours of my life stuck in dreary traffic on I-10 and I-5. I wanted to win a seat if only to justify why I was foolish enough to navigate a pair congested Los Angeles freeways in the rain.

I wandered into Commerce Casino and was greeted by a flood of memories and a wave of nostalgia. I covered my first-ever LAPC in 2006, right around the time I starting "dating" Change100. I was living in Las Vegas at the time (as Grubby's roommate) and never imagined what my life would be in the future, five years down the road in 2011 -- celebrating my 5th anniversary with Change100, living together one block south of the Beverly Hills border in a cool apartment where I finally finished my own personal while whale Lost Vegas.

Friday nights at Commerce are always a zoo, especially during the LAPC. I wandered upstairs to the ballroom and checked into the media event. I found Matt Savage and shook his hand. I wasn't the only one as others stopped by to pay their respects, sorta like that scene in the Godfather II when Don Fanucci walked down the street and someone kissed the ring on his hand.

I ran into WhoJedi, who asked how to buy a copy of Lost Vegas. I told him it's available on But he was in luck because I had a copy on me (as a bounty prize). WhoJedi is one of the few good guys in poker, so I gave it to him instead.

The media tournament was comprised of 55 or so runners including Foiled Coup and Joe Giron. I didn't know anyone at my table, but later discovered that John from Pokulator's girlfriend/wife sat to my immediate right. She went on a heater and ran over the table!

I sat in the 10 seat and one of the dealers said something rather funny.

"You're all nice to deal to," she said. "Why is that?"

"We're VIPs." I snarked.


"Not really. Most of us are writers, reports, and photographers."

"Ah, that's why you're all nice. You have a real job. Not like those bums," said said pointing at peanut gallery screaming at each other in the satellite section.

At one point, Wendeen Eolis joined my table. Wendeen is a veteran in the poker industry and we worked together at Poker Player Newspaper. If you didn't know, she's the first woman to ever cash in the WSOP Main Event -- and told everyone at my table in case they didn't know.

The highlight of the tournament occurred when Alexis Gilbard got moved to my table. We're practically neighbors and she joked that she always waves at our apartment building when she's taking a morning jog. With the exception of a little chit chat with Alexis, I was a morbidly bored because I forgot about how frigging slow that live poker can be at times. I hadn't played much poker in the last few months, instead, I got my gambling fix wagering on commodity futures (silver is trading at a new high) and on sportsbetting. I tiled a bit because the ballroom had a dozen TVs, yet not one of them had on the only game that I had bet on (Louisville-UCONN). I had to sweat the game on my CrackBerry and spent most of the time refreshing the score.

AlCantHang popped by to say hello. I wished that he stayed around because I always play well when ACH is one of my railbirds. I actually saw him drinking an Amstel Light. I did a double-take. Even the bartender was surprised when he ordered the beer and said, "What? No double SoCo?"

Media tournaments have horrible structures and you gotta play fast. I lost most of my stack after flipping with A-J against 8-8. On my bustout hand, I had 3BBs and shoved with 10-5 sooted. The guy who called me held 7-5 sooted. I stood up because I sensed it coming. A seven on the turn nuked my goose. I busted in 25th place or so. At least I lasted 2.5 hours -- longer than it took me to drive to Commerce.

Shirley Rosario and Max Shapiro won two of the three seats. I dunno who won the third one. Anyway, I had a fun time playing and it was cool to see familiar faces and even shoot the breeze with KevMath.

* * * * *

By the way, Shirley Rosario is en feugo. She won the LAPC $1K HORSE event the other night. Her run good continued last night when she won a seat into the Celebrity Invitational.

Here's Shirley's winners interview with Matt Savage moments after her HORSE victory in the LAPC Event #38...

The majority of people I admire and/or inspire me are non-poker people (artists, musicians, writers, philosophers, and my favorite politician Thomas Jefferson). However, Shirley is one of the rare exceptions from poker. I'm fortunate that we're friends. Not only is she one of the sweetest people that I've met in this nebulous poker world, but also her story is simply amazing -- a single mom who beat cancer and supported her family through poker. Along the way, she also built up Poker Babes, one of the most successful poker-themed sites on the web during the height of the poker boom. Her diligent work ethic has always inspired me.

Shirley has more than paid her dues grinding it out in SoCal casinos over the last decade, so I was super stoked when she won the HORSE event. And now, I'm sending out more good vibes to her today in the WPT Invitational. TID!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today in Tao of Poker History: Busto Brad

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm busy editing JTSMD, which means that it's the perfect time to remind you about a classic Tao of Poker post that occurred on this date in 2009.

Enjoy re-reading... Reader Mail: Busto Brad.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Morning Nugs: Shaniac Down the Well, Sick Ashman, Grump's Annoyances, Super Bowl Breakdown, and Silver Bears

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Photo by Flipchip

Mondays are the perfect time for killing time with poker-themed fodder, so let's get down to it with these heady nugs...
Shaniac appeared in the Well. He survived. (2+2)

Los hombres cranked out a new podcast. Topics were Ashman's 70 mile prop bet and American Idol. Talk about diversity! But if you're a rabid fab of AI, then you're in luck with the latest episode. Ohhh, and everyone's favorite Hollyweird blonde, Change100, was one of the special guests sharing the inside dope on AI. Listen here. (Wicked Chops Poker)

Speaking of Ashman, a couple of opinions on the 70-mile wager: Grange95's The Modern Duke Brothers - A Contrary View of a "Sick" Wager and Dr. Chako's MY Million Dollar Prop Bet. H/T to FTrain for pointing those articles out to me. (crAAKKer, Never Play Cards with a Man Named Doc)

And since we're on the topic... Sick Bet: Griffin, Qureshi, and "the World of Poker Players"... is Shamus' take on the matter. (Hard-Boiled Poker)

I love Grumps's posts that include numbered bullet points. You know it's gonna be a thorough and organized rant. He recently shared his thoughts on the latest episode of Poker After Dark, which made me chuckle... PAD Annoyances. (Poker Grump)

Were you wondering how the Las Vegas casinos made out during the Super Bowl? David G. Schwartz compiled the stats for you... 2011 Super Bowl Breakdown. (The Die Is Cast)

I fucking love the Silver Bears. Pure genius. The Silver Bears returned with Part 4 on their series about the manipulation of the silver futures market. (Tao of Fear).
That's it. You know the drill. NGTFOOMO.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Nugs: Team Shaniac, Poker Beat's Last Waltz, Le WSOP d'Europe, Hit the Road Kotter, and Change100's American Idol Report

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It's Friday. Finally. Slack off as much as you can today before you rage it up on the weekend. I seriously hope some of these glimmering nuggets of poker news will entertain you for the next 10-15 minutes...

Shaniac circa 2006 (photo by me)

Congrats to Shaniac for becoming the latest batch of sponsored players for Team Poker Stars: Online. Now go kick some ass, take some names, and make George Clinton and everyone else on the Mothership proud of you. (You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure)

The Poker Beat is nevermore. Three cheers to the gang at the Poker Beat podcast for a great run. Poker's version of the "sports reporters" made their mark with unique personalities. I was fortunate that Scott Huff invited me as a guest on a couple of episodes. Listen to TPR's final episode here. (Poker Road)

Au Revior, London. Le WSOP d'Europe mouvements vers la France. Yes, the WSOP-Europe is moving to France, leaving its home base at the Empire Casino in London and relocating to Casino Barrière in Cannes. I covered the first two installments of the WSOP-Europe, but haven't been back since. Hmmm... with the French version of Lost Vegas due out this year, there's a very good chance I'll be in Cannes pimping books. (

Hit the road, Mr. Kotter. Last season, A.J. Benza got the boot and Gabe Kaplan manned the booth solo. It was a little...awkward. Kaplan needed a partner to play off of and help set up his one liners. But now...Kaplan is dunzo. He will be replaced by Norm Macdonald. I was one of the few people who liked his version of Weekend Update on SNL. Anyway... Shamus' take on the latest changes at High Stakes Poker. (Hard-Boiled Poker)

I'm not a fan, but some of you might be avid viewers of American without further ado, here's Change100's Top 5 American Idol Hollywood Week Hopefuls. (Pot Committed)

Proud to announce that the one and only SirFWalgman is no longer a "special guest" at Tao of Fear. He's now a full-time cast member with a special feature titled The Waffles Report, which is the perfect forum for his rants and raves about a multitude of topics. I guess you can say that he's our version of Andy Rooney. (Tao of Fear)

One last thing... how about some heady pimpage in Twitlandia? On Fridays, the cool geeks (isn't that an oxymoron?) on Twitter created a meme called "Follow Fridays." So in that vein, may I suggest that you follow a few different accounts that I author and/or manage...
As you can see right above, I recently created a new account for my soon-to-be published novel Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Follow @JackTripperBook for updates and announcements on the publication date and pre-sales.

Just and FYI... my main Twitter account is @taopauly. I currently own/squat on @taopoker and @DrPauly, but those accounts are inactive.

Have a groovy weekend. Take lots of Twit Pics. NGTFOOMO.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

70 Miles, 24 Hours, $1 Million

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Can you run 70 miles in 24 hours?

I couldn't do 7, but what if you had plenty of incentive, for example, what if you lost $1 million if you didn't run 70 miles in 24 hours.

The human body can do wondrous things. Poker players often do bizarre things. When you add the two together, you're flirting between absurdity and extreme moral hazard.

In 2007, Erick Lindgren played 4 rounds of golf in Las Vegas and shot under 100 each game. Last summer, Phil Laak played 115 straight hours of poker at the Bellagio. And last weekend, Ashton Griffin ran 70 miles in a 24 hour period during one of the most insane prop bets I've heard about. Kids don't try that at home.

I've heard about a few prop bets that I wish happened, but didn't...
1. My girlfriend offered me $2,000 to sit through the entire Sex in the City movie (credits included), but I politely declined. I should have said yes and shot an angle, like seeing it on mescaline, but looking back I'm pretty sure I considered mescaline and other psychedelics as an option, but probably came to the conclusion that there were so many other cooler things that I'd rather do on mescaline, and a Sex in the City movie wasn't one of them.

2. I offered an uber-stoner friend of mine $6,000 to stop smoking weed for a month. He knew he couldn't do it, so he never took me up on it.

3. John Caldwell has had a goatee for most of his adult life. Hootie & the Blowfish offered him a chunk of change (in excess of at least one WSOP Main Event buy-in) to shave it and he said, "No."
I've also lost money prop betting against friends. I'm not so proud of a couple of wagers (Keno crayons, the "tinny" water) and wouldn't do them again.

The stupidest thing that I did to win a prop bet? I held my hand in an ice cooler for over five minutes. I risked losing a finger or two for $100. One friend summed it up best as a... "Battle of Dumb."

With that said, if you haven't read about The Million Dollar Bet... then I suggest that you set aside 15-20 minutes of your time to read it.
The Million Dollar Bet - Part 1
The Million Dollar Bet - Part 2

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Cowboys Full

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The only piece of furniture that I actually own is a bookcase. Everything else in my apartment belongs to my girlfriend. If I didn't give away books to friends as soon as I finished reading them, then I would have hundreds of more books stacked from the floor to the ceiling.

It's obvious that I read a lot and I can juggle three books at the same time. If I eat breakfast by myself at the diner, then I always bring a book with me...the same book...until it's finished. It's a weird habit, but I want to kick off my day with something inspiring, stimulating, or educational.

In case you were wondering, the other two books are categorized as "bathroom" and "office." I also have a fourth category that only appears when I'm traveling and that's the book that I take with me on long flights to avoid having to make small talk with the people next to me. You can pretty much guess that I only read those specific books in the designed places.

I devoured the office books the quickest because one of the few benefits of insomnia is that I spent many of those sleepless hours by reading in my office. Insomnia is the only reason why I had the time to re-read all 769 pages of Pynchon's epic tome Gravity's Rainbow. In addition, when I'm at my desk and should be working, I often justify not writing by being a productive reader thereby picking up whatever book is in front of me and reading a chapter or two.

Poker books are few and far between these days, so now I read about 12 non-poker books for every poker-related book that crosses my path. Ah, the elusive Baker's Dozen. That's poker books these days... unlucky #13.

Sometime last year, James McManus' publicist sent me a copy of his latest book Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker. I read three random chapters but never finished because real life had interfered -- I hit the road, embedded myself with hippies, and researched my next non-fiction book. Alas, I set Cowboys Full on top of a pile of books that were "started but never finished." It was all but forgotten.

I needed something to read this morning at the diner and walked into my office. My eyes darted up and down a pile of "never finished" books where I spotted McManus' Cowboys Full. I opened it up to the first chapter titled Pokerticians, read the first page, and then closed the book because I instantly found a winner. Instead of skipping around like the first time I came across it, I decided to read Cowboys Full from straight to finish, but as my new diner book.

The first chapter was so well written, that I extended my breakfast to read the second chapter, Loaded Knucklebones and Donkeys in Cybersace. Thanks to Jimbo's book, I'm considering breaking my exclusionary rule and might read a few chapters later tonight when I can't sleep, or the next time I have to drop the kids off at the pool.

Anyway, I will have more to say about it when I'm done, perhaps even a proper book review. But for now, I highly recommended Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker, especially if you're a history buff.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Live Sumo Is Rigged

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I first read about it in the New York Times after Kid Dynamite pointed out an article: In Text Messages, Signs of a Rigged Sumo Fight.

Yes, live Sumo is rigged. Confirmation of the scandal is a small victory for the tin foil hat-wearing Alex Jones disciples, not to mention a menagerie of pissed off gamblers in Japan who bet on the wrong side of the fix.

Sumo wresting is to Japan what baseball is to America. It's their national past time, a sport deeply rooted in religious traditions. Sumo champions are treated like gods among mere mortals. Their portraits are hung all over major cities in homage to their skill, power, strength, and honor.

The underbelly of the Sumo world recently reared its ugly head. I'm positive that rigged matches in Japan occurred for centuries, but those calamities were dealt with in a discreet fashion.

In the 21st century, it's tough to keep suspicious minds away from questioning the legitimacy of matches. Sumo, much like American professional sports, has an incestuous and symbiotic relationship with big business interests. The public's fervent following has blurred the lines between sport and entertainment. It came to no surprise that Japan's national past time was also plagued with their own scandalous affairs, including wrestlers caught using illegal performance enhancing drugs and rigging matches.

Yeah, live Sumo is rigged. So what?

Sumo was the last bastion of hope. It's disappointing to see that one of the last honorable sport had veered away from its competitive tradition. They are one step away from becoming an absurd spectacle, like America's pro wrestling circuits. Japan was one of the few cultures in which a man was measured by his integrity. Taking a dive was a dishonor yourself, let alone a sincere dishonor to the entire Sumo community of wrestlers, trainers, promoters, fans, and even the guy who gets paid to wipe the arses of ginormous wrestlers.

The Yakuaza's nefarious tentacles infiltrated the Sumo world and as a result, Japan's ruthless mafia were the masterminds behind dozens of embarrassing gambling-related scandals. Some of the scandals branched out into other sports. Most recently, a former Sumo wrestler-turned-bookie who worked for the Yamaguchi-gumi (the baddest and most dangerous faction of the Yakuza), got busted in a baseball betting ring. Supposedly, one of the bosses from Yamaguchi-gumi offered the wrestler a salaried job as a bookie. The boss sent the wrestler a "tout sheet", which handicapped baseball games. The wrestler then forward the tout sheet to his full roster of clients. Those suckers turned around and made wagers with the wrestler-turned-bookie based on their intel. Whether the information was legit or not, it didn't really matter because gambling addicts can't so no, but they love the "psychological cushion" that accompanies a tout sheet or any inside information on a game that they think gives them a tremendous edge versus the rest of the gambling public. Doesn't matter if it's the NFL or Japanes baseball...degens are looking for an excuse to bet big.

When I was a kid, I remember when I first learned that sometimes sporting events are fixed. To this day, my old man and our neighborhood bookie, Nine-a-Half-Fingered Vinny, swore on their mothers' graves that the second Sonny Liston-Muhammad Ali fight was fixed. Liston got knocked out on a so-called phantom punch. Who knows is Liston was really afraid of getting killed by militant African-American Muslims, or if a wiseguy gave him a truckload of cash to kiss the canvas? When I found out that some boxing matches were rigged, I lost interest and never really became a boxing fan, instead enjoying the early days of the WWF (a few years before Hulkamania went runnin' wild and before WWF had to change their name to WWE).

Bottom line -- no matter what the event (Sumo, boxing, college basketball, U.S. Presidential elections, online poker) -- if huge sums of money are involved, someone will try to manipulate the outcome for their own financial benefit.

Gordon Gekko said it first: "Greed is good." But the money is even sweeter bet on the right side of the fix.

* * * *

For more betting scandals pertaining to sports betting, I also penned... Syracuse Point-Shaving Rumors Debunked; Major College Basketball Betting Scandal Averted?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Monday Nugs: Jack Ury Farewell, Personal Jurisdiction and Online Poker Legality, Anonymous Blogging, and He Caught the Katy

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The legendary sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton
(Photo by Flipchip)

Time to shake off your Super Bowl hangover and get your ass in gear for the work week. Ah, who am I kidding, if you're reading this then you're already slacking off at work, to which I applaud you! So to help you kill some time, here's a handful of well-written poker-related pieces, which I read over the weekend and that I think you'll also enjoy.
The oldest player to ever buy into the WSOP Main Event, Jack Ury, passed away. Shamus penned a fitting farewell post to Ury, who took part in one of the craziest slow roll in WSOP history. (Betfair)

The Intersection of Law & Online Poker - Personal Jurisdiction was written by Grange95. It's an excellent read, with a thorough and in depth analysis on personal jurisdiction and the legality of online poker. (crAAKKer)

Mr. Funk's latest story about a slap-happy drunken crazy female passenger... He Caught the Katy. It made me say, "WOW!" out loud at least four times. (Las Vegas Cabbie Chronicles)

The Difference Between Online Casinos and Fully Legal Land-based Gambling Halls is a bit of top notch blogging from Michalski. His meds must be working this week! (Pokerati)

Is anonymous tweeting or blogging a bad thing? Thanks to Kid Dynamite for a tip about this gem: Anonymous/Pseudonymous Blogging & Tweeting, Good or Bad?. And read KD's reaction What's In a Name? (Kid Dynamite's World)

Don't forget about my latest guest post about the 2011 WSOP... 58 Bracelets, 15-Minutes of Fame, and 12 Donkaments (From the Rail)
You know the drill...NGTFOOMO.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Super Bowl Picks, Super Bowl Hangovers, and Cokehead in the Bathtub

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Super Bowl. Super Sunday. I hope you woke up early and prepared with a Super Breakfast.

By the way, here's my favorite quote about former President Bush 2.0 from Hunter S. Thompson after the two met for the first time when W showed up at Hunter's 1974 Super Bowl party in Houston...
"He knew who I was, at that time, because I had a reputation as a writer. I knew he was part of the Bush dynasty. But he was nothing, he offered nothing, and he promised nothing. He had no humor. He was insignificant in every way and consequently I didn't pay much attention to him. But when he passed out in my bathtub, then I noticed him. I'd been in another room, talking to the bright people. I had to have him taken away."
By the way, check out an excerpt from Thompson's article in Rollins Stone on the 1973 Super Bowl.

So the Super Bowl. AlCantHang dubbed it as the battle of the "Green Bay Flyovers" vs. "the Pittsburgh Rapists." Hey it could have easily been the New York Foot Fetishists vs. the Philly Dog Killers.

I'm not a tout. You have to be sharp to sell your picks. But, I'm not a complete self-loather who thinks he's shrouded in bad luck, so I won't tell you to fade my picks either. I've gotten a bombardment of emails, text messages, DMs, BBMs, and phonecalls asking me about my picks. The majority of these people are not sports bettors. A bunch are from the poker world, but a lot are just friends who aren't obsessed with gambling. They think that I'm the guy to go to when it comes to betting, which is a nice ego boost, but it also puts a lot of pressure on my shoulders because I don't think I'm better than the average sports bettor. I'd hate to tell people who I'm betting on, and then they piggyback those bets, only to come out on the shit end of the bet.

I'm someone who wants to help out friends when they seek out my help. I know my close friends wouldn't hold me responsible for their actions, but someones people like to pass the blame onto others, and in instances involving money, it can definitely be a pain in the ass. At best, I'm a break even player and I make sure they know that.

So here's my take... it's going to be a close game.

Someone (I forget who, my apologies for being a lazy pothead) left a comment and said that it's so close you have to take the points. That echoed my sentiments. So when the bookies released the spread, I went with the dog. Because I bet Pitt +3, I figured that if Pitt won, then it would be propelled by their tenacious defense, so I bet the UNDER at 46.

Since then, the lines fluctuated from -2.5to -3 and the UNDER dropped a slow as 44 and vaccilated between 45 and 44.5 for the last few days.

Anyway, since so many asked about my bets...
Pitt +2.5
Pitt +3
Pitt +120 (money line)
Pitt +130 (money line)
UNDER 44.5
National Anthem OVER 1:50 -180
National Anthem OVER 1:54 - 200
Coin Toss: Tails
Will BOTH teams kick FGs over 33 yds: YES
For 95% of you, this vernacular is standard every day speak, but I need to give an explanation to a couple of non-betting friends...
- The MONEYLINE is a bet that Pitt will win outright (no point spread). For example, +120 means I get $120 for every $100 that I bet. On the other end, if Green Bays is -130, you have to bet $130 to win $100. So yeah, if Pitt wins then I win wagers for $120 and $130 or $250

- The UNDER is a bet that the combined score will be under that total.

- Yes, you can bet on how long it takes Christina Aguilera sings the National Anthem. Listen to a podcast about it here: Exotic Betting on the Super Bowl.
If you want to bet online, you can sign up for a account here.

As you can tell, I'm wishing that Pitt wins a low-scoring affair so I can ship moneyline bets and the bets with Pitt getting. OK, that's it. I wish everyone luck today,whether they are at a party, in a bar, or watching it at home.

* * * *

P.S. Enjoy the food, booze, and other narcotics that you might be ingesting, snorting, inhaling, shooting, inserting today. Oh, by the way, time to share a little advice that I've picked up along the party circuit just in case you were wondering "How do I cure a Super Bowl hangover?"
Tips to for Curing Hangovers:

1. Be proactive and drink lots of water while drinking. Booze dehydrates you. I usually drink one glass of water for every two beers, or one water for every shot.

2. Before you crash, drink a glass of water and take 2 Advil (ibuprofen) before you go to sleep -- if you don't pass out in a bathtub first!

3. If you wake up and have "Montezuma's Revenge", pop an Imodium to help your pipes stop leaking.

4. If you wake up with a pounding headache, take 2 more advil and drink some sort of fizzy water.

5. If you have an upset stomach, drink ginger ale.

6. If you feel like total ass, then I suggest one of two things: 1) bring in the heavy artillery and eat some painkillers -- 7.5mg of Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortabs) or 5mg of Oxycodone (Percoset), or 2) avoid hangovers... stay drunk.
That's it. My unsolicited medical advice.

* * * * *

UPDATE... Sunday night... 7:20pm PT

That's it. The football season is over after Green Bay triumphed over Pittsburgh 31-25.

The bookies got the best of it this year because of chumpstains like me bet Pitt and took the points. Most of my wagers shit the bed, but even though Christina Aguilera fucked up the national anthem (doesn't that get her tossed into Gitmo?) she kept it on the long side to win a much-needed prop. I also saved some face with a hedge (parlay GB -3 and the OVER), 2nd half bets (Pitt -3 and +23.5), and exotic props (C. Aguilera's long anthem, A. Rodgers +175 MVP). Alas, after a fugly day...I was in the hole.

At least the game came down to the final possession giving me a fun sweat. Plus the food was great. Change100 is quite the amateur gourmet chef. I decided to not let Joe Buck tilt me this year and I muted the game whenever it was on (and listened to my buddy Jonas' Background Beats mix instead). I only cranked up the sound for commercials.

Kudos to Green Bay and all the Cheeseheads scattered about this great country of ours. The Packers opted out of the Brett Favre circus and they brought the Vince Lombardi trophy back to the hinterland of Wisconsin. In that same time frame, Favre fanned the flames of the sporting world's freak show, while he donned two jerseys representing Gang Green and Purple People Easters, got embroiled Penis Gate (be careful who you send pictures of your pecker to) and had his personal life pecked away by the media vultures. But that didn't compare to the harsh realization that it was finally over on the fateful day when a battered, fragile, wounded warrior limped onto the battlefield only to have his soul and legacy ripped out of his body on national TV.

The epilogue on the Brett Favre era in Green Bay has come to an end.

* * *

UPDATE.... Monday morning... 2/7/10 at 10:10am PT...

The online sports books are in a tizzy over the OVER/UNDER payouts because Christina Aguilera fucked up the lyrics to the National Anthem. You can watch Aguilera's Super Bowl video here.

But who won exactly? Check out this article... National Anthem Prop – Who Won?

Also... the Vegas sportsbooks had a rough day. It wasn't like the ass-kicking after the Giants upset the Patriots a few years ago, but it seems as though the bookies got killed having to payout parlays with Green Bay (minus points) and the OVER. I put in that exact parlay as a hedge -- and it prevented me from losing even more money.

And Flipchip snapped some photos at sports books on the Las Vegas Strip yesterday.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Exotic Betting on the Super Bowl, Christina Aguilera, and the Latest Episode of Tao of Pokerati (With Special Guest Change100)

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Current Line: 1 minute 54 seconds

I sat down with Change100 and we recorded a special episode of the Tao of Pokerati. Our topic? Betting on the Super Bowl. We decided to shine a little light onto the random and ridiculous prop bets that bookies offer up for the Super Bowl (to induce half-baked punters into betting money that you normally wouldn't bet otherwise on a game you don't give a shit about).

Before you bet on the Big Game, make sure you listen to the latest episode of Tao of Pokerati for a special tip from Change100. Yes, she's become a huge tout these days when it comes to things involving... singing and gambling.

2011 Super Bowl: Exotic Betting on the Super Bowl with Change100 - Pauly and Change100 chat about "exotic" proposition wagering for this year's Super Bowl. If you're looking for some easy money, then you're in luck because Change100 also shares a tip on how long it will take Christina Aguilera to sing the national anthem.
For more episodes, visit the Tao of Pokerati archives.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Syracuse Point-Shaving Rumors Debunked; Major College Basketball Betting Scandal Averted?

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It started with a post... Syracuse allegedly were shaving points.

Rumors. Of course. You rarely find truth on the internet, unless Truth is the name of your favorite porn star sporting a sloppy back tattoo and oblong boobs.

The Syracuse point-shaving rumors blew up overnight and what would have just been whispers among paranoid bettors, until it became a national scandal. I blame the gossipy nature of social media and the rapid means that information spreads on the interwebs....unless you live in Egypt, where they block internet access during a revolution.

Syracuse didn't pull the plug on the web. Coach Jim Boeheim denied allegations. The players involved sent out tweets admonishing their skeptics. The Cuse fan blogs rushed to the Orangemen's defense. The major sports blogs sifted over the evidence. Even sports book managers in Vegas were all of sudden being quoted in articles.

But everyone came to the same conclusion... it was just a rumor.

If Syracuse players did shave points -- holy shit -- talk about a pair a fucking big ass balls. The parties involved (the players on the take and the fixers) were incredibly brazen or incredibly stupid in this digital age.

It's difficult to shave points in the modern era, especially with 24/7 surveillance, if you play in a top notch program like Syracuse. Maybe you can get away with it 60 years ago when you didn't have video cameras and only had a minimalist box score and local sports reporter's hundred word recap to go by.

You can run the point-shaving scam today, but only if you play on North Dakota State and miss a few lay ups to blow a spread against Northern Montana Tech. But good luck getting a bookie to accept a five figure wager on an added game.

Alas, a Goliath like Syracuse is under intense scrutiny, especially after they started the season 18-0. It's much harder to blow a game than you think. Every shot...every lay up...every miss...shit, every time they failed to cover the spread...all of that is logged, booked, and categorized on the web in both statistical format and on video.

Which makes the task of shaving points in today's world even more daunting.

"Any you fellas wanna make a quick buck?"

But even within those obvious constraints and deterrents, the rumors still swirled around gambling circles. Paranoia struck deep in Orange Nation. I got wind of the scandal from a buddy of mine, a poker pro, who graduated from Syracuse. He watched almost every game this season. In fact, we both bet on the same game -- one of the few losses that came under fire -- but at the time I didn't view the game as anything more than "just another fucking shitty pick."

In case you were wondering, I lost exactly $111 betting on two Syracuse games -- I dropped $110 in one game against a tough Pittsburgh squad (when they started a suspicious 0-19 but stormed back with a 17-0 run themselves), and last weekend, I added Syracuse to a $1 multi-team parlay (which was a long shot to win anyway even with many losing sides, including Syracuse's six point loss against Marquette).

I didn't think anything was amiss in either losses at the time. Sometimes the teams your pick get stomped. Sometimes they lose because of last second heroics. But no one likes to lose a bet on a game that's not straight. I know that I've made plenty of accusations from time-to-time, and most of those were either really bad jokes in an attempt to use humor to deflect the pain of losing a big bet, or most of the time, it was nothing more than a curt remark from an agitated gambler. Sort of like getting sucked out by a 2 outer on the river and exclaiming... "Online poker is fucking rigged."

Players have shaved points since the inception of the point spread. College basketball has always been fertile ground for angle-shooting gamblers and mafia-type enterprises because the players are still young men...we're talking 19,20,21 year old kids. Because they are not yet professionals, those athletes can't earn any money with jobs as a scholarship player. They're close to cashing in -- sort of like their noses are pressed up against the window -- but they aren't quite there yet. They play hoops in a tempestuous environment, blurring the lines between sports/entertainment/big business/media.

College athletes have become pawns for corporate entities. All of those annoying redundant commercials during March Madness made you nauseous, but it's a clear indication at the significant money that is thrown around by major advertisers. Someone is making a buck on college athletes, everyone except the athletes themselves.

The toxic environment of collegiate sports fostered ill will among many disenfranchised players. Once a player decided (or realized) that he's just a piece of cattle who is not getting his piece of the pie, then his future becomes murky as he embarked on a dark, dangerous, and slipper slope. Once a player or team allowed the dregs of the gambling industry inside their micro-world, then it's doomed to explode.

When greed penetrated the inner circle, a cancerous effect ensued. It's never just one time, or one game. Once you do something shady once, it's easy to do it again...and again...and again. That's how you get caught.

Toldeo. Boston College. LIU. CCNY. NYU.

The list went on and on. I've written in detail about Scandals of 51, a book that I read that detailed the massive point shaving scandals from New York City colleges in the early 1950s that nearly destroyed the game completely. Back then, the games were legitimately fixed. Most bookies were smart enough not to bet action on a hot game.

In the modern era of ESPN, NESN, and Dead Spin, it's nearly impossible to text a picture of your penis to someone, let alone tank a game on national TV. Who knows what really happened. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't.

One thing is for sure -- Syracuse would be pretty stupid to try to do anything because now everyone is watching.

Friday Nugs: WSOP Name Origins, Red Pros on Twitter, Tipping Dealers, Online Poker Arms Race, Tin Foil Hats, and Truckin

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

So many stories... so little time to expand upon all of these bits of information for you to masticate upon on this Friday. Kill some time before the big Super Bowl weekend.
Nolan Dalla is one of my favorite writers. He penned a thorough piece detailing the origins of how the World Series of Poker derived its name. (

Do you want to stalk your favorite pros on Twitter? Then AlCantHang's post, Poker in the Age of Twitter, is a must read because it reveals the Twitter handles of the majority of Full Tilt's stable of 6,420 red pros. I dunno about you, but I'm pumped that some of my favorite Scandis are on the list. Now I know what Soren Konsgaard had for breakfast today! (Poker From the Rail)

Ever wonder about tipping your dealers? Tipping Point: How Dealers Make A Living is a guest post from an actual dealer about the inside dope about tipping. (Pokerati)

There's been a cold war among online poker rooms going on for a while behind the scenes. They all want to achieve the same thing: global dominance. Here's a detailed analysis about Online Poker Arms Race. (Bill's Poker Blog)

Kim is one of my favorite Scandi thinkers/scribes in poker. Check out Kim's latest Tin Foil Hat UIGEA Theory. I love anything involved with tin foil hats. (Infinite Edge)

Oh, and if you like to read short stories or travel stories, then I encourage you to read the recent issue of Truckin'. My contribution this month was inspired by my trip to the Bahamas last month and it's titled Sweet T'ings. Other stories included submissions from AlCantHang, May B. Yesno, Mark Verve, and Alex Villegas -- making his debut. Here's the February issue. (Truckin')
Yep, you know what's up... NGTFOOMO!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Your Hands and Feet Are Mangos, Part 2

By Pauly
Los Angeles,CA

Here's the second and final installment of my rum-inspired sports betting diaries. It started out as a social experiment but over a long weekend, I nearly lost my shirt on college hoops and had an accident that left our kitchen floor all... sticky.

* * * *


After fear mongering all day, I got a tip from someone that Chicago Bob knew. Manhattan College +20 was my only college hoops play. I grew up within a stone's throw of Manhattan College and attended many games with my old man when I was a kid. The Jaspers were pathetic this season on the road, but could they really lose by 20 points? If they we're playing a Big East team, then I'd be worried. But Fairfield? No way.

I went with the sharpies on this one. By the time I placed my bet, the line dropped to +19.5. Manhattan surprised everyone and led by three at the half. The Jaspers couldn't hold on and lost, but by one 2 points. Printing money, eh?

On the NBA front I plucked four games off the money tree: Utah -7 against Minnesota (a shitty T'Wolves squad on the road), the Knicks +7 (blind faith? I can't not bet the Knicks when they are road dogs), Oklahoma City -10.5 (I compulsively faded the hapless Wizards, the only winless road team in the NBA), and Boston -4 (Phoenix had been abysmal beating the spread in 2011).

I really should have only bet three (Boston was an impulse buy at the checkout counter). I dunno how many times the phrase/philosophy "What the fuck, right?" got me into trouble. My girlfriend and I finished our writing work for the day. By late afternoon, we kicked back with a batch of rum drinks. She set up her grind station in the living room and fired up a few SNGs.

I sweated the Knicks game and that wasn't pretty. The untelevised Manhattan game finished first and that winning bet eased the blow of the Knicks' demise. I cringed at the frivolous fisticuffs from the Knicks to end the game. They acted like a bunch of thugs and sore losers.

I turned off all sports and watched The Grateful Dead movie because I've been on a Jerry Garcia kick and it was perfect background amusement while I chatted with the girlfriend about whether or not I was going to Brazil in a couple of weeks.

Then disaster struck.

As the saying goes... even a blind squirrel with a broken watch gets laid in a whorehouse twice a day. Or something like that.

All I know is that the lowly fucking Wizards decided to show up and play like an actual professional basketball team. They had OKC on the ropes late in the 4th quarter. I was laying 10.5 and thinking -- I need overtime to save my ass, but could someone get outscored by 11 in a 5 minute OT period?

The Wizards wouldn't die so easily. The game plunged into overtime, giving me like 0.04% chance of covering. To my delight, both teams struggled to score 7 each in the extra frame and the game stumbled into a second OT tied at 110. My bet was not officially done, but weirder things have happened in multiple OT games. But.... not that night as OKC won by 7, but failed to cover.

Oh well, fuck the Wizards in the mouth. I'll keep fading them on the road all season. I'm still up for the year betting against them on the road.

Utah squeaked by with an 8 point victory when I was laying 7. That made me look like a genius, or the luckiest fucker in the Northern Hemisphere.

My hopes rested on Boston. The Cetlics. Those shamrock-wearing schmucks were my only chance to break even for the day in the NBA after the Wizzies and Knicks put me in a hole. I was already slightly agitated at Boston's anemic start. They were down by double digits against the Suns. After a sloppy first half, the game had the makings of a low-scoring snoozefest. I made a bold decision: I bet the under total in the 2nd half at 98.5.

Boston played without any rhythm and trailed by ten for most of the 2nd half. Both teams went cold in the 4th quarter and combined for only 26 points. Poor shooting = printing money. The second half total was around 75 or 76... well under 98.5. At the least, I broke even for the game. I started with 3 NBA plays, ended up with 4 and went 2-2 for the day.

For the week, I was barely above water with a 5-4-1 total. On a positive note, on NCAA games, I improved to 8-2-1.

* * * *


Big day. I could smell the money in the air.

I woke up early, scanned the picks that my buddy's computer program generated, made a few early plays, shrugged off the hangover, went to coffeeshop, crushed a cheeseburger for breakfast, read a chapter from Griftopia, and then made a re-supply run for rum and maraschino cherries. It sucks that four marijuana dispensaries were located within walking distance of our apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills, but not one liquor store in the same radius. That just encouraged drunk driving.

The closest grocery store (with booze) sold me a 1.75ml bottle of rum for $17, saving $8 with my Ralph's card, which by the way is under the name Page McConnell (for you non-Phishead readers, Page is the piano player from one of my favorite bands). Yep, Page saved me $8 on the extra-large bottle so I didn't have to worry about running out. With enough rum and buds, I could properly hole up in the apartment all weekend.

I used my $8 in rum savings and played a trio of $1 parlays and one $5 three-team parlay. Two of the $1 parlays shit the bed before it was even noon including a 10-team behemoth paying 700-1. The third one fell soon after.

Parlays? Fools' gold. Suckers' bets. Pikers' wet dreams. Those -EV bets siphoned off a chunk of my bankroll. When was I gonna learn?

The UCONN game was the first misstep (and misclick) of the day. I bet twice as much as I wanted, but it was my fault for being too hungover to notice my error. That's a major downside to online sports betting (and a sincere boil on the ass of any poker player -- the dreaded misclick). I had a bad feeling that the fuck up was going to cost me dearly. Gah, why was I bet the fucking UCONN in the first place?

The UCONN game went into not one, but two overtimes. My buddy attended the game and sent me a flurry of text messages...
ChipBitch: I can't handle this.
Me: Suck it up, you're not the one with $500 riding on it!
ChipBitch: It's tough being a UCONN fan.
I needed the game to go into a third OT to have a shot at covering -4. Nope. Louisville won by 1. Fuck. Me.

I was already in the hole before my girlfriend woke up. She brewed a fresh pot of Sumatra-blended coffee and the apartment had the same aroma of a Amsterdam coffeeshop. I blasted a Phish funk mix and then played five different live versions of the song Ocelot. My girlfriend fired up her laptop and played in three tournaments. With the TV on mute, I frantically flipped back and forth between Charleston/Davidson and scanning every possible station on the dial that had a college hoops game. Meanwhile, one of my laptops streamed Al Jazeera's coverage of the unrest in Egypt, while the other constantly refreshed scores.

In between folding hands, my girlfriend peeked up from her laptop and asked about the so-called computer program that a friend of mine, a former quant on Wall Street, was beta testing his new equation. Using her iPad, I showed her projected outcomes of Harvard-Cornell and Princeton-Yale.

"Now you've seen the intel, which game do you want to bet?" I asked.

"I'm not getting involved in your sports betting hedge fund!" she snapped. "I only bet on 'exotics' like American Idol and Oscar winners."

"Exotics? Betting on Ivy League basketball is as exotic as you're gonna get."

Her interest in hoops quickly faded and she disappeared into an online poker haze after ripping a binger. I considered a bet on Harvard, but opted out.

My biggest action of the day fell upon the shoulders of the Mormons of BYU. Due to the UCONN fiasco, I attempted to chase the morning's losses by betting BYU multiple times when the line moved from -3.5 to -2.5. Earlier that day, I locked in a bet at -3.5, but then doubled up when it moved a full point in my favor. I waited until 1:29pm, or ten minutes into the BYU/NM game to mix my first cocktail of Saturday, even though getting hammered was on my mind the moment that I rolled out of bed seven hours earlier.

I periodically kept tabs on BYU, and they were always ahead by a bucket or two. I decided to have a relaxing afternoon and not sweat games until 5 minutes were left. Instead of ripping what little hair I had out of my head, I read articles about Egypt's political instability potentially affecting the price of oil, then mixed another drink before I stepped outside in front of my apartment building to marvel at the warmth of the California Sun and the swaying palm trees.

And then it happened...a disturbance in the force.

BYU let the lead slip out of their hands with three minutes to go. So much for being ranked #9 because they couldn't beat the fucking Lobos in New Mexico. The worst part? BYU tragically gave up at the end of the game. When their deficit was reaching double digits, I turned it off. My big plan to dig myself out of a hole was toast. BYU shit the bed. Explosive Mormon-induced diarrhea.

A friend of mine who also watched the game sent me a rather blunt direct message: "That was worse than coming down off of coke."

Time to get unstuck, I mumbled and instantly pulled up the Ivy League games that I teased my girlfriend with only a few hours earlier. Friends of mine graduated from Cornell and they advised that it wasn't wise to bet on them. With that in mind, I liked Harvard laying 10.5. Is an 11-point victory too much to ask?

St. Mary's hooked me up a few night's earlier and I hopped aboard the St. Mary's bandwagon, even though I had no idea where they were located. That morning, I had bet them at -6 against Portland, but doubled up when the line moved to 5.5. I also bet the over in that game at 141.5 a few minutes before tip off, something I would not have done if BYU had won. Call it what you will...I was desperate and chasing a loss.

I switched gears in the cocktail department and whipped up a club soda, Malibu, with a splash of cranberry. "Very summery," complimented my girlfriend as she took a satisfying sip, "this is a perfect beach drink."

During the week, my sports betting selections were suspect, but my mixologist skills were still top notch. At the rate my bets were going, I might have to find a part-time gig working behind a bar if I went busto.

"The Dead is a good soundtrack to basketball," Change100 said about Red Rocks 1978 as it echoed throughout our apartment. I needed the music to mellow me out, otherwise I might have kicked my TV in. By 4pm, a wave of gripping inebriation took root as I tried to wash away misery from the UCONN double OT debacle and BYU's pathetic performance. Those Mormons played like a bunch of JV rejects at the end of their game, and gave me a dismal outlook for the rest of the slate.

My dour mood finally perked up when Harvard smoked Cornell like cheap schwag. Harvard won by 21 and easily covered. Ha! All of my parlays got flushed down the toiler, but that was the only exotic bet of the day that came through. I should have just hammered those geeks at Harvard all afternoon instead of wasting my time with special-underwear wearing polygamists at B-Y-fucking-U.

I finally won a bet after getting shutout all day, so I celebrated the moment with a cocktail.


I got a little sloppy while mixing a batch of Bahama Mamas and a huge crash in the kitchen ensued. A concerned voice bellowed from the living room to see if I was still alive. My girlfriend was too involved in her SNGs to actually rush to the kitchen to see if I had spliced off any fingers.

"Good news and bad news," I barked and then inspected my soaked jeans. "Bad news is that the kitchen floor is pink and sticky. Good news is that thanks to the supreme technological advances in developing plastics, the shatter-proof bottle prevented the rum from exploding."

I half-assedly cleaned the kitchen during the halftime of St. Mary's-Portland, and wished that our former maid had not gotten deported to Guatemala. Damn immigration laws.

When the 2nd half tipped off and a cocktail in hand, I settled in for a sweat, except that the next ten minutes were agony, followed up by another ten of torture. During six minutes of game time, St. Mary's failed to score a single fucking point. Zilch. Zero. Zed. Portland ran up a 20+ point fueled by a 25-2 run. Talk about a kick in the nuts with a sledgehammer.

In other games, Cincy was on the verge of imploding. That pick was so bad that it wasn't worth me writing about the bad beat. The "I gotta get unstuck" mantra echoed throughout my brain and I hit up my laptop like a virgin in a whorehouse, fumbling around to find the right hole, er, to find a late game to piss away the rest of my bankroll.

Enter Texas/Missouri. I liked Texas -7 and the under at 146 when I woke up. I bet those numbers individually and as a parlay. During the afternoon, the line moved to -7.5 and 147.5 on the total. I only doubled up on the under.

Hook 'em (gulp) horns.

Just when I was read to "tear up my ticket" on the over in the St. Mary's game, they made a semi-comeback and my dead "over" total bet sprang to life. St Mary's still trailed by almost ten, but both teams hoisted up enough points in the 2nd half to give me a shot at hitting the over 141.5. A couple of treys from both teams brought me closer and closer...and with less than a minute to go, I clinched the over bet. It was only 25% of what I had riding on St. Mary's to win, but considering that I had already written it off, I'll gladly took the rebate.

The loss didn't sting as much with the euphoric high of hitting the over. Your bi-polar sports bettor's mood changed drastically when you had something to root for -- and it friggin' hit. I enjoyed the buzz while it lasted because I was still in the hole for the day. Was Texas gonna bail me out?

"Hook 'em fuckin' horns!" I screamed, probably pissing off the Yo La Tengo-playing hipsters who lived upstairs.

Texas sprinted out of the gate with impeccable start and maintained a 8-10 point lead the entire game. They kept the score under 146. Not much of a sweat. Too bad all games weren't that easy. I hit two under bets and Texas laying 7. That clutch bet sopped up a ton of bloody carnage. Why did I even bet any of those other games? I should have made one giant bet on Texas and a medium bet on Harvard.

With a junkie's buffet of college hoops action, I almost forgot about a single "must play" in the NBA... fading Washington on the road. The winless Wizards played their second of back-to-back road games. On Friday night, they forced a double OT to come as close as they've been all season with a road victory, but in the end they still lost. Those fuckers beat the spread and I lost my bet. Yep, I wanted revenge...I wanted my money back and then some. Payback time. Memphis at -9 got buried in a blizzard of action from yours truly. I got nothing personal against the Wizzies...I just wanted the cheddar.

With Memphis up 59-50 at the half, I had a moment of clarity while taking a leak and screamed: "Fuck the Wizzies! Bet the under for the second half."

The total was 98. I locked it up and also bet Memphis -2 for the second half. It was tough to win back-to-back nights on the road in the NBA and after they endured a multiple OT game the night before, ergo it made logical sense that the Wizzies would be extra tired.

Yep, I faded the Wizzies in the 2nd half to get unstuck. As scripted... Memphis won by double digits, they outscored the Wizzies by 5 in the 2nd half, and they both scored under 98 points combined.

I scooped all three bets to post a 3-0 night in the NBA. Printing money. Too bad I was burning money indulging in college hoops.

The NBA action bailed my ass out. All that work only for nadda. Totally blew asscock, but I should've been counting my blessings -- I got lucky with a few desperate "gotta get unstuck bets" and turned around a disastrous day into a break-even day. No profit to show for it after a long tiresome Saturday because I went 5-6 in college hoops.

For the week in the NBA, I had a reputable score of 8-4-1. College hoops was a different beast. My weekly record of 13-8-1 looked good on paper, but I was actually down a few bucks for the week after that losing a big (misclick) bet on friggin' UCONN, and then I dug myself a deeper hole with the Mormons.

* * * *


A gentle rain fell on the city of Angels.

Writers have employed rain as a hackneyed literary device to indicate a change in emotion. I welcomed the rain and hoped it washed away the miserable break-even streak. Losing streaks were depressing, but break-even streaks were outright frustrating. A grey and gloomy day should have fit my mood, but I was rarely optimistic. I woke up without a hangover and confident in one NBA game.

But I couldn't ignore the Duke-St. John's match up. National TV. MSG. It came on at 10am on the west coast. It was the first Sunday in months without a pro football game -- the one-week hiatus before the Super Bowl. The early college game attracted plenty of action, more so than normal. It was methadone for Sunday punters.

The computer liked Duke. I hated Duke. Maybe it was because I went to Emory or because I always wanted to play hoops wearing Carolina Blue for Dean Smith. It always pained me to bet on Duke. I assumed that the majority of bettors had a similar bias against Duke, including all those home-dog-loving wise guys back in NYC who pounced on the Johnnies +9.

I can't explain why, but I bet on Duke when the line moved to -8.5. They probably should have won by a dozen, but with all that action coming down on the Johnnies, it made sense that the shops lowered the line to induce some sucker to bet on Duke.

And I'm that fucking mush who woke up and said, "Duke, baby!"

I was shocked that Duke got pummeled, but then again, the Johnnies played schizo all season. Some nights the Johnnies had the pedigree of a top 20 team, but other nights, they look like a hastily-thrown-together pick up squad. I bet Johnnies +11 in the second half to wipe out that misstep with Duke -7. Law of averages said that Duke would play a more cohesive 2nd half to make it a competitive game, but the Johnnies were doing something right -- an intangible element that enticed me to bet them +11. If they could fend off a couple of offensive surges from Duke, then getting +11 seemed like a lock. At the least, it made the rest of the game interesting to watch, right?

The Johnnies maintained their lead, but how would they handle the last two minutes of the game during the frantic scramble (foul > FTs > chuck a trey > foul > FTs >chuck a trey)?

Prayer should not be confused with a "one-time" chip. I only prayed when Catholic college teams are involved. I wouldn't pester God with a trivial gambling matter, but I figured that's what all his Saints were for, right? I turned to a trio of Saints that distraught gamblers sought in times of despair... St. Coulda, St Woulda, and St. Shoulda. The triumvirate helped wayward sinners on their path to salvation, and sometimes helped you with a missed free throw or a fortuitous holding penalty.

I got my prayers answered when the Johnnies made free throws down the stretch and Duke's sharp shooters fell short. Duke only outscored the Johnnies by 6 points in the 2nd half. I won that 2nd half bet to break even for the game. The only winner was the betting shop... those heartless fuckers. When am I gonna stop being the sucker and start booking bets?

Until I got the testicular fortitude, security protection, and financial banking to book street bets, then I'm shit out of luck. Back to being a punter. A piker. A mook.

If college was my leak, then NBA was my bread-and-butter... smoother than cocoa butter. I liked one game, but bet two. So it goes.

The Lakers-Celtics were on TV at 12:30pm PT. That match up was a throwback to my youth with flashbacks of Magic Johnson and his shit-eating grin as he led the Showtime Lakers against porn-stashed Larry Bird and the Celtics. Back then, Tommy Heinshon announced the games on CBS and my dad hated Heinshon because he was a "homer" (and a former Celtic player). K.C. Jones manned the Celtics bench while the slick-haired Pat Riley roamed the Lakers' side, with a handful of Hollywood's prettiest people sitting court side.

Twenty-five years later, the actors have changed but the principle characters and script remained the same.

I bet the Lakers only because I was gonna watch the game, and you know how I hated to waste my time, so if I was gonna watch it, then I was gonna bet it. I only watched some of the first half, because I got lost in a website project and got distracted with Egypt coverage. I forgot about the game. An hour later, my girlfriend popped her head in my office and consoled me with a gentile "I'm sorry, baby."

"Oh, shit, the Lakers!" I screamed. "What was the score?"

She revealed me the final score and I was glad that missed the entire second half. I dunno why I bet the fucking Lakers if I wasn't going to watch the game.

"So, was Khloe there?" was my only reaction.

My fate rested on New Orleans, which opened at +1 when I woke up. I bet them at +1.5 after breakfast, and again when it moved to +2. The line went back down to +1.5. Word on the street was that all the sharpies were hammering New Orleans. I was betting on the same side as the wise guys it seemed. I hoped that we both had the right side.

Just before tip off, I bet my hometown Knicks laying -6.5. A friend of mine made it his pick of the day and he hated the Knicks, so I took that as a good sign. I was irked when I couldn't find the Knicks game or the New Orleans game on cable. The friggin's Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards show was on instead, and my girlfriend had it on in the background. I asked her if we had any sure things to bet on. She explained that the SAG awards was one of the only award shows that wasn't rigged. Instead of SAG bets, we made a pact to save our money and bet on the rigged Oscars instead.

I resorted to streaming the Knicks and New Orleans' games on my lap top using the "sweat channel" -- a Scandi site that streamed European soccer and American sports.

The Knicks were down by a few buckets at halftime. The New Orleans game started thirty minutes after the Knicks, so the action was staggered. New Orleans kept pace with Phoenix and I was happy to see the score tied at halftime. I couldn't watch the rest of either game until they reached the 4th quarter. I drank and feasted on Change100's turkey chili instead.

I checked in on the Knicks in the 4th and they had dismantled Detroit. Easy and smooth. Not much of a sweat, which made the game a pleasure to watch.

New Orleans was a whole other story. They trailed by 8 with 8 minutes left in the game. I walked away for a few minutes and hoped that the New Orleans would go on a run to bridge the gap. Upon my return...they were down by 10. Fuck me. I was ready to tear up the ticket with a minute to go, but New Orleans made a stupendous, unreal, remarkable, sick comeback fueled by 12-2 run. A stupid foul by Phoenix with 12 seconds left gave me a shot to get within 2 points.

Holy shit...I went for utterly disgusted to totally pumped.

Then Phoenix threw the ball away. I was bouncing off the walls! New Orleans gained possession with 10 seconds to go and down by a bucket. I didn't want an overtime and prayed for a last second trey. New Orleans inbounded the ball, David West drove the lane, dished it to an open teammate, who promptly blew the layup.

Fuck. Me.

New Orleans lost by 2 points. I pushed one bet +2 and lost the other -1.5. What a disappointing finale to the day and the week. The game could have earned me a profit for the day. Instead, I ended Sunday 1-2-1 in the NBA and 1-1 in college games.

* * * *

The week's totals....
NCAA: 14-9-1
NBA: 9-7-2
Despite picking 5 more winning games that losers in college hoops, with juice and losing a big bet, I ended the week with less than a $100 profit. I finished the NBA with a whopping $140 thanks to reduced juice Fridays.

Overall, I barely won $200 after a week of what seemed like constant break-even action. I grinded out an income worth less than $30/day. Shit, I'd make more if I was selling beer as a vendor at the games. To put things into perspective, the $200 surplus didn't even cover my liquor tab and weed habit for the week.

If you haven't done so, please read Part 1.